"To help its early years pupils develop the core muscles needed to write, one primary has embraced playdough as a training aid."
"Tim Barber is assistant head at St Thomas More’s Catholic Primary School and leading foundation stage practitioner for Hampshire County Council."
"Push, chop, pinch, roll, yeehaw...!"
"If you walk into our early years unit at the beginning of the morning, you shouldn’t be at all surprised if you hear the teachers and children saying these words while partaking in some unusual actions. We have good reason for such behaviour."
"Each year, more and more children come into Reception not being able to hold a pencil because they have not yet developed the appropriate upper body strength. It is impossible for children to learn to hold a pencil without first strengthening muscles in the back, shoulders, arms, elbows, wrists and hands. On the journey to become confident mark makers, children also need to develop shoulder, elbow and wrist pivots."
"Despite these difficulties, and the fact that learning to hold a pencil and use it to form recognisable letters is an incredibly difficult skill that all children will develop at their own rates, and in their own ways, teachers are under increased pressure to raise outcomes in writing at the end of early years." [Isn`t that the real problem?]
"To find a solution, we embarked on an action research project trialling a new intervention called Dough Gym, designed by early years consultant Alistair Bryce-Clegg. Its aim is to strengthen and develop children’s fine and gross motor dexterity, balance and hand-eye co-ordination. We were so impressed, we have now adopted it full-time."
"We assess children’s fine and gross motor dexterity together with pencil grip on entry to Reception. Children who require further development are encouraged to join our Dough Gym, a physical daily intervention that is fun, engaging and highly kinaesthetic."
Here comes the parental put down:
"Parents often find it difficult to see the link between muscle development and early mark making. To address this, we invited parents to come along to a family learning workshop so that we could share our pedagogy and provide them with ideas for how to support their child at home on their journey to becoming a confident mark maker."